PKK terrorists among seven on board crashed helicopter: Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government

Some of those who were on board a helicopter that crashed in northern Iraq on Wednesday are members of the PKK terror group, Iraqi’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) said on Thursday.

At least seven people including five passengers were killed, said Lawk Ghafuri, spokesperson for the Kurdish region's President Nechirvan Barzani.

"The investigations are ongoing by security officials to determine the ownership of the helicopter," Ghafuri said in a post on Twitter.

At least seven were on board, according to an investigator at the crash scene speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation with the media.

The helicopter was carrying militants belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, the counter-terrorism statement said. No party has of yet claimed ownership of the chopper.

Iraq's government, the U.S-led coalition and Turkey had been contacted by the Iraqi Kurdish regional government about the crash, but each denied the helicopter was theirs, the statement added.

Zagros Hiwa, a PKK spokesperson, said the group does not possess helicopters and they were also investigating the incident. He also cast doubt on the presence of PKK militants onboard the flight, saying they may have a coalition helicopter carrying fighters with the People's Protection Units, or YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group allied with the U.S.-led forces.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition declined to comment, saying the crash fell outside the scope of the coalition's operations.

Turkish defense ministry officials said that initial reports that the helicopter had been Turkish were "completely untrue" and that there was no helicopter flight belonging to the Turkish military in the region.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s and is considered a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union. Its militants have established safe havens in northern Iraq and frequently come under attack by Turkey in the region.

In a statement, the Counter Terrorism Service of the KRG said that the relevant institutions of the KRG contacted the Iraqi central government, US-led international coalition forces, and Türkiye regarding the crash in the Duhok region.

It said that the helicopter did not belong to the PKK terrorist group but a number of its members were among those who were on board.

Initial findings indicate that it was a Eurocopter AS350 type helicopter and some of the dead were PKK terrorists.

A detailed investigation continues to ascertain to whom the helicopter belonged.

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